#106 – Play Ball

I admit I’m a creature of habit. Give me a schedule to follow and I’m content. But change things up even a little and I’m lost – like yesterday, for instance.

Until this week, our landscapers were cutting the grass late afternoon on Saturdays. I loved the consistency, since it gave me ample opportunity to plan ahead. For instance, I knew not to grill on Saturdays, and I made sure to clear the yard of items I didn’t want eaten by a lawnmower.

Late yesterday afternoon, it hit me that the mowers I heard motoring over a neighbor’s yard were actually traversing our property, two days ahead of schedule! I hadn’t expected the landscapers, so I hadn’t bothered safeguarding the one item I could ill afford to lose: Prometheus’ squeaky ball. 

Our pint-sized puppy adores a certain brand of plastic squeaky balls. Given one, he’ll amuse himself for up to an hour (leaving me blissfully free to pursue my own objectives). The only problem is, the toys don’t last. His teeth may be tiny, but they’re needle sharp and they eventually tear gaping holes in the plastic. By Monday, he’d ravaged all but one of a four-pack. My intent’s been to purchase replacements this coming weekend, and I’ve counted on the last ball surviving till then. As of yesterday morning it still looked fine, despite Prometheus batting it about the front yard for a half hour while I caught up on e-mail.

As I listened to the landscapers mowing, I suddenly realized I’d left the surviving squeaky ball outside. I ran to the front yard, followed by Prometheus, and frantically searched for it. I couldn’t find it anywhere on the lawn. Desperate, I waved down the guy on the riding mower. I attempted as best I could to explain my predicament; however, it wasn’t easy telling the English-challenged immigrant from south of the border that he’d mowed up the single object I could not do without. Once his slightly more bilingual co-worker joined us, I managed to convey the gist of the problem and a proposed solution. Unsurprisingly, neither of them looked overjoyed at the prospect of emptying the lawnmower’s bagging unit. But I insisted!

Disappointingly, we failed to locate the missing toy amidst the enormous pile of grass clippings the Mexican lads grudgingly dumped onto the lawn. And the guys seemed less than pleased while debating the best way to re-bag the detritus. Yet their initial frowns appeared positively chipper compared to the frosty glares they fixed me a second later, when Prometheus blasted from our bushes … clutching the missing squeaky toy in his mouth. His possession of the object alone earned me the landscapers’ enmity; but he also compounded matters by racing straight through the grass pile and scattering it in all directions!

Knowing I’d been a jerk, I initially considered compensating the men with my entire collection of Taco Bell coupons. But bad enough being an asshole; I didn’t need to be a racist asshole to boot. Instead, I offered two apologies guaranteed not to offend any race, creed or nationality: the green ones, featuring Andrew Jackson’s stern visage.

The critical squeaky ball

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